(16)Sowing and Reaping in Word-Faith
1.In the theology of the faith movement, wealth is seen as evidence
of God’s blessing, while poverty is seen as a sign of spiritual failure.
Tilton sums up the thinking of many faith teachers with the words:
[Being poor is a sin].
2.The concept of sowing and reaping is popular in faith
circles. Such texts as Galatians 6:7 are often employed to
justify this teaching.
3.Duplantis, in using this text, explains that by planting a financial
seed into a ministry, the believer can name what it is that they
want in return and believe that they shall receive it. Invariably
linked to the belief of positive confession
4.Duplantis claims that when one is seed planting in this way,
failure to be specific in naming what is hoped for, such as a
particular material possession or financial sum, can result in a
failure to receive a harvest.
5.Galatians 6:7 cannot be used to support the seed-faith concept
of the faith movement. Rather than appealing to an
individual’s greed (Gal.6:8), in context the passage is
clearly encouraging people to crucify all selfish desires
(Gal. 5:21, 24) and serve one another selflessly
6.Avanzini thinks that one of the reasons why some believers
fail to prosper is because their subconscious mind has been
conditioned into accepting the tradition that Jesus was poor;
and it is as a result of such negative conditioning that building
faith for prosperity sometimes fails. The answer, according to
Avanzini, is to recondition the subconscious mind with the
truth that Jesus actually lived in great prosperity.By thinking
like this, the believer is then free to receive his or her rich
7.Avanzini arrives at this view of Jesus by citing John 19:23-24
to prove that the garment that Jesus wore at His crucifixion
was a custom-made designer garment, the kind that kings and
rich merchants wore. He also attempts to reinforce this belief
by bringing to attention the fact that the soldiers who crucified
Him cast lots over the garment. Avanzini presumably believes
that if Jesus was ministering today, He would be wearing an
Armani suit and a rolex watch.
8.However, rather than being the [designer clothes] of rich kings
and merchants, Beasely-Murray shows that the kind of tunic
that Jesus wore, although possibly made by his mother, was
not particularly unusual in Palestine in the first century. He
also reveals that the practice of casting lots for the garment
was a common tradition. Contrary to what Avanzini tries to
prove, there was nothing particularly out of the ordinary a
bout the clothes Jesus wore.
9.If material blessings were in direct proportion to a persons
giving or one’s faith, wealth would be a slide rule for the
measuring of spirituality and Peter, James and John should
have become millionaires.
10.But Jesus clearly warned His followers to be on
their guard against all forms of greed and stated
that one’s life does not consist in the amount of
material possessions that a person may have
11.Jesus did not come to bring material and financial prosperity,
rather He came to focus peoples attention on the
value of eternal prosperity (Matt. 6:19-20).
12.Unfortunately, throughout history, the Church has seen two
extremes where materialism is concerned. Early Christianity was
marked by the rigorous ascetics and by the Church fathers who
forcefully attacked all luxury and emphasised poverty as an
important Christian virtue. But today the Church has sprouted
a philosophy of the opposite extreme. Either extreme distorts
the Christian life. The Bible clearly teaches that a balance
in such matters is needed (Prov. 30:7-9; Phil. 4:11-12).
13.There are many faithful believers who live modestly and will
never have more than the basic necessities of life. Yet they are
content to have what they have. The prosperity teachers
ridicule such and say that they only have that little
because they don’t trust God for more; the fact of their
contentment (which is highly regarded by God) is looked upon
as a lack of faith. And they are chastised because they haven’t
got the faith to get more so they can give more. Ultimately,
the giving is expected to go into the coffers of the prosperity
teacher; they may give to others, but not apart from also giving
to the prosperity teacher.
14.All the prosperity teachers use a particular fear tactic to
establish their rule for giving — if you don’t give, God will
curse you. Many also teach that if one wishes to use the
prosperity gospel for selfish ends — to acquire personal wealth
without giving — it isn’t going to work. If, however, one uses the
prosperity gospel with the intention of acquiring wealth for
unselfish purposes (i.e. giving to the prosperity teacher,
no doubt), God’s promise is that He will shower abundant financial
blessings upon him.